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Gunter Heinz
Peter Hautzinger



Gunter Heinz
Peter Hautzinger


Bangkok, 2007
The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this
publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the
part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
(FAO) nor The Animal Products Development Center (APDC) in
Manila/Philippines concerning the legal status of any country, territory,
city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its
frontiers or boundaries.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored

in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior
permission of the copyright owner. Applications for such permission,
with a statement of the purpose and extent of the reproduction, should
be addressed to the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP),
Maliwan Mansion, 39 Phra Atit Road, Bangkok 10200, Thailand.

© FAO 2007

ISBN: 978-974-7946-99-4


The cover photo was made available by the

Animal Products Development Center (APDC) in Manila / Philippines


Senior Animal Production and Health Officer and Secretary of

FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP)
39 Maliwan Mansion, Phra Atit Road
Bangkok 10200, THAILAND
Tel: +66 (0)2 697 4000
Fax: +66 (0)2 694 4445
Meat Processing Technology i


Chapter Page no.

1 Foreword, Acknowledgement, Authors .................................. ii - iv

2 Introduction ............................................................................. v
3 Meat, fat and other edible carcass parts ...................................... 1
4 Principles of meat processing echnology .................................... 17
5 Selection and grading of raw materials for meat processing ......... 43
6 Non-meat ingredients.............................................................. 59
7 Seasonings used in meat processing ......................................... 83
8 Heat treatment of meat products .............................................. 87
9 Categories of processed meat products ..................................... 97
10 Fresh processed meat products .............................................. 103
11 Raw-fermented sausages....................................................... 115
12 Raw-cooked meat products .................................................... 127
13 Precooked-cooked meat products ........................................... 149
14 Cured meat cuts ................................................................... 171
15 Processed products made of chicken meat ............................... 187
16 Meat products with high levels of extenders and fillers .............. 195
17 Traditional / ethnic meat products .......................................... 213
18 Meat drying.......................................................................... 221
19 Simple meat processing under basic conditions ........................ 243
20 Casings ............................................................................... 249
21 Packaging of fresh and processed meat ................................... 265
22 Canning / sterilization of meat products................................... 277
23 Handling and maintenance of tools and core equipment............. 297
24 Simple test methods for meat products ................................... 315
25 Meat processing hygiene........................................................ 339
26 Cleaning and sanitation in meat plants .................................... 369
27 Annex I recipes for processed meat products ........................... 381
28 Annex II glossary ................................................................. 429
29 Index .................................................................................. 447
ii Meat Processing Technology

Meat is the most valuable livestock product and for many people serves
as their first-choice source of animal protein. Meat is either consumed as
a component of kitchen-style food preparations or as processed meat
products. Processed meat products, although in some regions still in their
infancy, are globally gaining ground in popularity and consumption

Meat processing has always been part of FAO’s livestock programmes,

not only because of the possibility of fabricating nutrient-rich products
for human food, but also owing to the fact that meat processing can be a
tool for fully utilizing edible carcass parts and for supplying shelf-stable
meat products to areas where no cold chain exists. Moreover, small-scale
meat processing can also be a source of income for rural populations.

In the mid eighties to early nineties of the last century, FAO published
two books on meat processing (Animal Production and Health Series No.
52 and 91) in order to familiarize food processors in developing countries
with meat processing technologies. However, due to the time elapsed
since then they no longer fully reflect current techniques and processing
procedures used in the meat sector.

FAO initiated two major projects in this sector. In the mid nineties and in
early 2000, in cooperation with the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC)
and the German Development Agency GTZ/CIM, FAO ran two
comprehensive regional training and development projects on meat
processing technology, the first one in sub-Saharan Africa and the
second one in Asia.

The experience gained in these two meat processing projects led to the
decision that an updated manual on meat processing technology should
be prepared, which should take into account the above mentioned
publications. It should also represent not only the latest developments of
meat processing technology but also use modern publication techniques
such as digital photography and computer-created charts and graphs in
order to visually clarify and explain facts and procedures described in the
Meat Processing Technology iii

The result is a comprehensive compendium on all important topics

relevant to the small- to medium-size meat processing sector, with more
than 400 colour photographs, drawings and graphs. It can be anticipated
that this publication will be a useful guidebook not only for meat
processing industries in developing countries, but for all those who plan
to establish small business enterprises in this sector or are interested,
from the training point of view, in this important part of food

He Changchui
Assistant Director-General and
FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific
iv Meat Processing Technology

This manual is based on training materials used in FAO-organized
Regional Training in Meat Processing Technology for Asian countries. The
Animal Products Development Center (APDC) in Manila, Philippines
offered its premises for the training courses and was instrumental in the
preparation of the manuscript through the provision of staff and
equipment for experimental and development work, photographs and
technical drawings and in the finalizing of the text, for which we are
grateful. The review of the text by APDC scientists is also highly

The production of the manual is a joint activity between the Animal

Products Group of the Animal Production Service (AGAP) of FAO
Headquarters in Rome, Italy and the Livestock Section of the FAO
Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP) in Bangkok, Thailand. The
hard work of Anthony Bennett, Animal Production Officer (AGAP), in
reviewing the publication and the technical editing is highly appreciated.
AGAP’s contribution to the printing cost is acknowledged.

In RAP the support of Chanrit Uawongkun and Yupaporn Simuang-ngam

in the complex task to provide the layout for the manual is appreciated.

Gunter Heinz, who holds a PhD in Veterinary Medicine, is a specialist in
Meat Technology and Meat Hygiene. He worked as a scientist in meat
research in Germany and was involved in veterinary sanitary control in
export abattoirs and meat processing plants in all major meat producing
countries. He is a retired FAO technical officer who was Senior Officer for
Meat Technology and Hygiene at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy and
Regional Animal Production Officer at the FAO Regional Office for Asia
and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand.

Peter Hautzinger is a Meat Technologist with rich practical experience

in meat processing at the artisan and industrial level. He served as an
instructor at a German College for Engineers for the Food and Meat
Sector. At the international level he was the Chief Technical Advisor to
the two largest FAO Regional Projects on Meat Processing Technology,
which were carried out in Africa and Asia respectively and both co-funded
by the Common Fund for Commodities CFC and CIM/GTZ of Germany as
well as the respective host governments Uganda and the Philippines.
Currently he works for the support industry for the Asian meat sector
and is based in Singapore.
Meat Processing Technology v

Meat consumption in developing countries has been continuously
increasing from a modest average annual per capita consumption of 10
kg in the 1960s to 26 kg in 2000 and will reach 37 kg around the year
2030 according to FAO projections. This forecast suggests that in a few
decades, developing countries’ consumption of meat will move towards
that of developed countries where meat consumption remains stagnant
at a high level.

The rising demand for meat in developing countries is mainly a

consequence of the fast progression of urbanization and the tendency
among city dwellers to spend more on food than the lower income
earning rural population. Given this fact, it is interesting that urban diets
are, on average, still lower in calories than diets in rural areas. This can
be explained by the eating habits urban consumers adopt. If it is
affordable to them, urban dwellers will spend more on the higher cost
but lower calorie protein foods of animal origin, such as meat, milk, eggs
and fish rather than on staple foods of plant origin. In general, however,
as soon as consumers’ incomes allow, there is a general trend towards
incorporating more animal protein, in particular meat, in the daily diet.
Man’s propensity for meat consumption has biological roots. In ancient
times meat was clearly preferred, consequently time and physical efforts
were invested to obtain it, basically through hunting. This attitude
contributed decisively to physical and mental development of humankind.
Despite the growing preference in some circles for meatless diets, the
majority of us will continue eating meat. It is generally accepted that
balanced diets of meat and plant food are most effective for human

Quantitatively and qualitatively, meat and other animal foods are better
sources of protein than plant foods (except soy bean products). In meat,
the essential amino acids – the organic acids that are integral
components of proteins and which cannot be synthesized in the human
organism – are made available in well balanced proportions and
concentrations. As well, plant food has no Vitamin B12; thus animal food
is indispensable for children to establish B12 deposits. Animal food, in
particular meat, is rich in iron, which is of utmost importance to prevent
anemia, especially in children and pregnant women.

In terms of global meat production, over the next decade there will be an
increase from the current annual production of 267 million tons in 2006
to nearly 320 million tons by 2016. Almost exclusively, developing
countries will account for the increase in production of over 50 million
tons. This enormous target will be equivalent to the levels of overall
meat production in the developing world in the mid-1980s and place an
vi Meat Processing Technology

immense challenge on the livestock production systems in developing


The greater demand for meat output will be met by a further shift away
from pastoral systems to intensive livestock production systems. As
these systems cannot be expanded indefinitely due to limited feed
availability and for environmental reasons, other measures must be
taken to meet growing meat demand. The only possible alternatives are
making better use of the meat resources available and reducing waste of
edible livestock parts to a minimum.

This is where meat processing plays a prominent role. It fully utilizes

meat resources, including nearly all edible livestock parts for human food
consumption. Meat processing, also known as further processing of meat,
is the manufacture of meat products from muscle meat, animal fat and
certain non-meat additives. Additives are used to enhance product
flavour and appearance. They can also be used to increase product
volume. For specific meat preparations, animal by-products such as
internal organs, skin or blood, are also well suited for meat processing.
Meat processing can create different types of product composition that
maximizes the use of edible livestock parts and are tasty, attractive and

The advantage of meat processing is the integration of certain animal

tissues (muscle trimmings, bone scraps, skin parts or certain internal
organs which are usually not sold in fresh meat marketing) into the food
chain as valuable protein-rich ingredients. Animal blood, for instance, is
unfortunately often wasted in developing countries largely due to the
absence of hygienic collection and processing methods and also because
of socio-cultural restrictions that do not allow consumption of products
made of blood. While half of the blood volume of a slaughtered animal
remains in the carcass tissues and is eaten with the meat and internal
organs, the other half recovered from bleeding represents 5-8 percent of
the protein yield of a slaughter animal. In the future, we cannot afford to
waste such large amounts of animal protein. Meat processing offers a
suitable way to integrate whole blood or separated blood fractions
(known as blood plasma) into human diets.

Thus, there are economic, dietary and sensory aspects that make meat
processing one of the most valuable mechanisms for adequately
supplying animal protein to human populations, as the following explains:

• All edible livestock parts that are suitable for processing into meat
products are optimally used. In addition to muscle trimmings,
connective tissue, organs and blood, this includes casings of animal
origin that are used as sausage containers.
Meat Processing Technology vii

• Lean meat is one of the most valuable but also most costly foods and
may not regularly be affordable to certain population segments. The
blending of meat with cheaper plant products through manufacturing
can create low-cost products that allow more consumers access to
animal protein products. In particular, the most needy, children and
young women from low-income groups, can benefit from products
with reduced but still valuable animal protein content that supply
essential amino acids and also provide vitamins and minerals, in
particular iron.
• Unlike fresh meat, many processed meat products can be made
shelf-stable, which means that they can be kept without refrigeration
either as (1) canned heat sterilized products, or (2) fermented and
slightly dried products or (3) products where the low level of product
moisture and other preserving effects inhibit bacterial growth. Such
shelf-stable meat products can conveniently be stored and
transported without refrigeration and can serve as the animal protein
supply in areas that have no cold chain provision.
• Meat processing “adds value” to products. Value-added meat
products display specific flavour, taste, colour or texture components,
which are different from fresh meat. Such treatments do not make
products necessarily cheaper; on the contrary in many cases they
become even more expensive than lean meat. But they offer
diversity to the meat food sector, providing the combined effect of
nutritious food and food with excellent taste.

Processing technology

Meat processing technologies were developed particularly in Europe and

Asia. The European technologies obviously were more successful, as they
were disseminated and adopted to a considerable extent in other regions
of the world – by way of their main creations of burger patties,
frankfurter-type sausages and cooked ham. The traditional Asian
products, many of them of the fermented type, are still popular in their
countries of origin. But Western-style products have gained the upper
hand and achieved a higher market share than those traditional products.

In Asia and Africa, there are a number of countries where meat is very
popular but the majority of consumers reject processed meat products.
This is not because they dislike them but because of socio-cultural
reasons that prohibit the consumption of certain livestock species, either
pork or beef depending on the region. Because processed products are
mostly composed of finely comminuted meat, which makes identifying
the animal species rather difficult, or are frequently produced from mixes
of meat from different animals, consumers stay away from those
products to avoiding eating the wrong thing. But when the demand for
meat increases and a regular and cost-effective supply can only be
viii Meat Processing Technology

achieved by fully using all edible livestock parts, consumers will need to
adjust to processed meat products, at least to those where the animal
source can be identified. Younger people already like to eat fast-food
products such as beef burgers or beef frankfurters. Outlet chains for such
products and other processed meat products will follow when the
demand increases.

This manual

In regions where processed meat products are widely popular and

therefore produced in great variety, the consumer may get confused with
the multitude of different products and product names. With this manual,
we have set out to clarify the types of meat products and the techniques
for producing them, with a specific focus on operational and technical
requirements for small- and medium-scale processing units. As a first
approach in international meat literature, this manual classifies existing
meat products according to their processing technology into six clearly
differentiated groups. Practically every processed meat product can be
integrated into one of these groups. This system provides transparency
in the meat-products market and allows for the exact characterization
and defining of differences in the processing technology. The processing
technologies, including meat processing equipment to be used, are
described in detail in the respective chapters. In addition, Annex I
contains detailed recipes for representative products for each group.

In meat-product manufacturing, the basic processing technologies, such

as cutting and mixing, are accompanied by various additional treatments
and procedures, depending on the type and quality of the final product.
Such treatments involve curing, seasoning, smoking, filling into casings
or rigid containers, vacuum packaging, cooking or canning/sterilization.
Due to the importance of these procedures, suitable and up-to-date
techniques for carrying out these processes and the equipment needed
are described in separate chapters but are also referred to in the manual
in connection with the respective product groups.

Processing technologies for meat products will not deliver satisfactory

results if there is no adequate meat hygiene in place. In the interest of
food safety and consumer protection, increasingly stringent hygiene
measures are required at national and international trade levels. Key
issues in this respect are Good Hygienic Practices (GHP) and Hazard
Analysis and Critical Control Point Schemes (HACCP), which are
discussed in detail in the manual. Extensive knowledge on hazards that
microorganisms cause is indispensable in modern meat processing. Thus,
along with technological aspects of meat processing, the manual includes
reference to related aspects of meat processing hygiene, including
causes for meat product spoilage and food borne illnesses as well as
Meat Processing Technology ix

cleaning and sanitation in meat processing. For the purpose of consumer

protection and the quality control of meat products, simple test methods
are provided that can be carried out at the small enterprise level without
sophisticated laboratory set-ups. However, some of these procedures
have to be understood as screening methods only and cannot
supplement specific laboratory control, which may be officially required.

As the authors, we have endeavoured to incorporate in this publication a

series of practical topics, which are important in meat processing but
which are usually not sufficiently referred to or not found at all in meat
processing handbooks. This includes the handling and maintenance of
equipment and tools, workers’ appliances, workers’ safety in using
equipment and tools, meat processing under basic conditions, traditional
meat drying, preparation of natural sausage casings from intestines of
slaughter animals, the comprehensive listing and description of non-
meat ingredients, the manufacturing of meat products with high levels of
extenders and fillers, as well as sources and processing technologies for
animal fats in meat product manufacturing. This much-needed practical
advice and information will also provide incentives towards product
diversification to meat processors.

This manual was designed in the first place as a guideline for practical
meat processing activities, with focus on the small- and medium-scale
sector. The technical content, therefore, was written to make it clearly
and easily understood by processing artisans. However, in a number of
cases it was necessary to provide more scientific background information
for the explanation of technical measures recommended. The description
of these mostly physical/chemical aspects is attached to the respective
topics but clearly marked in grey or blue boxes. Readers who do not
require the additional information will have no problems in understanding
the content of the chapters without reading the text in those boxes.
Readers who want an overall view of the topic will find the necessary
details in the boxes.

This manual is intended for meat processors in developing countries, in

particular those who want to improve the existing manufacturing
methods and anyone who is interested in entering this specific food
sector. Because the content reflects the most current techniques and
procedures globally applied in the small- and medium-size meat
processing enterprises and includes numerous instructive photographs
and drawings, its use is also encouraged for information and teaching

Gunter Heinz
Peter Hautzinger
Meat, fat and other edible carcass parts 1


(Types, structure, biochemistry)

Sources of meat, fat and animal by-products.

Meat, fat and other carcass parts used as raw materials for the
manufacture of processed meat products are mainly derived from the
domesticated animal species cattle, pigs and poultry and to a lesser
extend from buffaloes, sheep and goats. In some regions other animal
species such as camels, yaks, horses and game animals are used as
meat animals but play only a minor role in meat processing.

In this context, meat can be defined as “the muscle tissue of slaughter

animals”. The other important tissue used for further processing is fat.
Other edible parts of the slaughtered animal and often used in further
processing are the internal organs1 (tongue, heart, liver, kidneys,
lungs, diaphragm, oesophagus, intestines) and other slaughter by-
products (blood, soft tissues from feet, head).

A special group of internal organs are the intestines. Apart from being
used as food in many regions in particular in the developing world, they
can be processed in a specific way to make them suitable as sausage
casings (see chapter on Casings, page 249). Some of them are eaten
with the sausage; others are only used as container for the sausage mix
and peeled off before consumption.

The skin of some animal species is also used for processed meat
products. This is the case with pork skin and poultry skin, in some cases
also with calf skin (from calf heads and legs).

For more details on the utilization of animal tissues for processed meat
products see also chapter “Selection and grading of meat materials for
processing” (page 43).

1) With the emergence of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy), some edible animal
tissues from ruminants, in particular brain, have been declared “specified risk materials
(SRM)” and have to be condemned in BSE affected areas.
2 Meat, fat and other edible carcass parts

Muscle meat

Chemical composition of meat

In general, meat is composed of water, fat, protein, minerals and a

small proportion of carbohydrate. The most valuable component from
the nutritional and processing point of view is protein.

Protein contents and values define the quality of the raw meat material
and its suitability for further processing. Protein content is also the
criterion for the quality and value of the finished processed meat
products. Table 1 shows the chemical composition of fresh raw and
processed meats.

Table 1: Content of water, protein, fat, ash (in percent) and calories
(approximate values for selected raw and processed food products)

Calories /
Product Water Protein Fat Ash
Beef (lean) 75.0 22.3 1.8 1.2 116

Beef carcass 54.7 16.5 28.0 0.8 323

Pork (lean) 75.1 22.8 1.2 1.0 112
Pork carcass 41.1 11.2 47.0 0.6 472
Veal (lean) 76.4 21.3 0.8 1.2 98
Chicken 75.0 22.8 0.9 1.2 105
Venison (deer) 75.7 21.4 1.3 1.2 103
Beef fat (subcutaneous) 4.0 1.5 94.0 0.1 854
Pork fat (back fat) 7.7 2.9 88.7 0.7 812
Beef, lean, fried 58.4 30.4 9.2 213

Pork, lean, fried 59.0 27.0 13.0 233

Lamb, lean, fried 60.9 28.5 9.5 207
Veal, lean, fried 61.7 31.4 5.6 186
Raw-cooked sausage with coarse
68.5 16.4 11.1 170
lean particles (ham sausage)
Raw-cooked sausage finely
57.4 13.3 22.8 3.7 277
comminuted, no extender
Raw-cooked sausage
63.0 14.0 19.8 0.3 240
(frankfurter type)
Precooked-cooked sausage
45.8 12.1 38.1 395
(liver sausage)
Liver pate 53.9 16.2 25.6 1.8 307
Gelatinous meat mix (lean) 72.9 18.0 3.7 110
Raw-fermented sausage (Salami) 33.9 24.8 37.5 444
Milk (pasteurized) 87.6 3.2 3.5 63
Egg (boiled) 74.6 12.1 11.2 158
Bread (rye) 38.5 6.4 1.0 239
Potatoes (cooked) 78.0 1.9 0.1 72
Meat, fat and other edible carcass parts 3

As can be seen from the table, water is a variable of these components,

and is closely and inversely related to the fat content. The fat content is
higher in entire carcasses than in lean carcass cuts. The fat content is
also high in processed meat products where high amounts of fatty tissue
are used.

The value of animal foods is essentially associated with their content of

proteins. Protein is made up of about 20 aminoacids. Approximately
65% of the proteins in the animal body are skeleton muscle protein,
about 30% connective tissue proteins (collagen, elastin) and the
remaining 5% blood proteins and keratin (hairs, nails).

Histological structure of muscle tissue

The muscles are surrounded by a connective tissue membrane, whose

ends meet and merge into a tendon attached to the skeleton (Fig. 1(b)).
Each muscle includes several muscle fibre bundles which are visible to
the naked eye (Fig. 1(c)), which contain a varying number (30-80) of
muscle fibres or muscle cells (Fig. 1(d) and Fig. 2) up to a few
centimetres long with a diameter of 0.01 to 0.1 mm. The size and
diameter of muscle fibres depends on age, type and breed of animals.
Between the muscle fibre bundles are blood vessels (Fig. 1(e)) as well as
connective tissue and fat deposits (Fig. 1(f)). Each muscle fibre (muscle
cell) is surrounded by a cell membrane (sarcolemma) (Fig. 2, blue).
Inside the cell are sarcoplasma (Fig. 2, white) and a large number of
filaments, also called myofibrils (Fig. 1(g) and Fig. 2, red).

The sarcoplasma is a soft protein structure and contains amongst others

the red muscle pigment myoglobin. Myoglobin absorbs oxygen carried
by the small blood vessels and serves as an oxygen reserve for
contraction of the living muscle. In meat the myoglobin provides the red
meat colour and plays a decisive role in the curing reaction (see page

The sarcoplasma constitutes about 30 percent of the muscle cell. The

sarcoplasmatic proteins are water soluble. About 70 percent of the
muscle cell consists of thousands of myofibrils, which are solid protein
chains and have a diameter of 0.001 – 0.002 mm. These proteins, which
account for the major and nutritionally most valuable part of the muscle
cell proteins, are soluble in saline solution. This fact is of utmost
importance for the manufacture of certain meat products, in particular
the raw-cooked products (see page 97, 127) and cured-cooked products
(see page 97, 171). A characteristic of those products is the heat
coagulation of previously liquefied myofibril proteins. The achieved
structure of the coagulated proteins provides the typical solid-elastic
texture in the final products.
4 Meat, fat and other edible carcass parts

Fig. 1: Muscle structure Fig. 2: Entire muscle fibre or

(skeletal muscle) muscle cell, 0.01-0.1 mm

Changes of pH

Immediately post-mortem the muscle contains a small amount of muscle

specific carbohydrate, called glycogen1 (about 1%), most of which is
broken down to lactic acid in the muscle meat in the first hours (up to 12
hours) after slaughtering. This biochemical process serves an important
function in establishing acidity (low pH) in the meat.
In the live animal glycogen is the energy reserve for the muscles used as fuel for muscle
Meat, fat and other edible carcass parts 5

The so-called glycolytic cycle starts immediately after slaughter in the

muscle tissue, in which glycogen, the main energy supplier to the
muscle, is broken down to lactic acid. The build up of lactic acid in the
muscle produces an increase in its acidity, as measured by the pH. The
pH of normal muscle at slaughter is about 7.0 but this will decrease in
meat. In a normal animal, the ultimate pH (expressed as pH24 = 24
hours after slaughter) falls to around pH 5.8-5.4. The degree of
reduction of muscle pH after slaughter has a significant effect on the
quality of the resulting meat (Fig. 3).

The typical taste and flavour of meat is only achieved after sufficient
drop in pH down to 5.8 to 5.4. From the processing point of view, meat
with pH 5.6-6.0 is better for products where good water binding is
required (e.g. frankfurters, cooked ham), as meat with higher pH has a
higher water binding capacity. In products which lose water during
fabrication and ripening (e.g. raw ham, dry fermented sausages), meat
with a lower pH (5.6–5.2) is preferred as it has a lower water binding
capacity (see also page 322).

The pH is also important for the storage life of meat. The lower the pH,
the less favourable conditions for the growth of harmful bacteria. Meat of
animals, which had depleted their glycogen reserves before slaughtering
(after stressful transport/handling in holding pens) will not have a
sufficient fall in pH and will be highly prone to bacterial deterioration (see
also box page 5/6).

PSE and DFD (see Fig. 3)

In stress susceptible animals pH may fall very quickly to pH 5.8 – 5.6 while
the carcass is still warm. This condition is found most often in pork. It can be
recognized in the meat as a pale colour, a soft, almost mushy texture and a
very wet surface (pale, soft, exudative = PSE meat). PSE meat has lower
binding properties and loses weight (water) rapidly during cooking resulting in
a decrease in processing yields.

A reverse phenomenon may arise in animals which have not been fed for a
period before slaughter, or which have been excessively fatigued during
transportation and lairage. In these cases, most of the muscle glycogen has
been used up at point of slaughter and pronounced acidity in the meat cannot
occur. The muscle pH24 does not fall below pH 6.0. This produces dark, firm,
dry (DFD) meat. The high pH cause the muscle proteins to retain most of
their bound water, the muscle remain swollen and they absorb most of the
light striking the meat surface, giving a dark appearance.
6 Meat, fat and other edible carcass parts

Dark meat has a “sticky” texture. Less moisture loss occurs during curing and
cooking as a result of the higher pH and the greater water-holding capacity
but salt penetration is restricted. Conditions for growth of microorganisms are
therefore improved resulting in a much shorter “shelf life”. DFD conditions
occur both in beef and pork.

DFD meat should not be confused with that resulting from mature animals
through the presence of naturally dark pigmentation. PSE and DFD conditions
can to a certain extend be prevented or retarded through humane treatment
and minimization of stress to animals prior to slaughter.

PSE and DFD meat is not unfit for human consumption, but not well suited
for cooking and frying (PSE loses excessive moisture and remains dry due to
low water binding capacity while DFD meat remains tough and tasteless due
to the lack of acidity).

Nevertheless, for meat processing purposes, PSE and DFD meat can still be
utilized, preferably blended with normal meat. PSE meat can be added to
meat products, where water losses are desirable, such as dry-fermented
sausages, while DFD meat can be used for raw-cooked products (frankfurter
type) where high water binding is required.

Fig. 3: Changes of pH
Meat, fat and other edible carcass parts 7

Meat colouring

The red pigment that provides the characteristic colour of meat is called
myoglobin. Similar to the blood pigment haemoglobin it transports
oxygen in the tissues of the live animal. Specifically, the myoglobin is the
oxygen reserve for the muscle cells
or muscle fibres. Oxygen is needed
for the biochemical process that
causes muscle contraction in the
live animal. The greater the
myoglobin concentration, the more
intense the colour of the muscle.
This difference in myoglobin
concentration is the reason why
there is often one muscle group
lighter or darker than another in
the same carcass. Fig. 4: Fresh meat cut (beef) with
intense red meat colour
Myoglobin concentration in muscles
also differs among animal species. Beef has considerably more
myoglobin than pork, veal or lamb, thus giving beef a more intense
colour (Fig. 4). The maturity of the animal also influences pigment
intensity, with older animals having darker pigmentation. The different
myoglobin levels determine the curing capability of meat. As the red
curing colour of meat results from a chemical reaction of myoglobin with
the curing substance nitrite, the curing colour will be more intense where
more muscle myoglobin is available (see “Curing”, page 34).

Water holding capacity

The water holding capacity

(WHC) of meat is one of the most
important factors of meat quality
both from the consumer and
processor point of view. Muscle
proteins are capable of holding
many water molecules to their
surface. As the muscle tissue
develops acidity (decrease of pH)
the water holding capacity
decreases (Fig. 5, 429, 430). Fig. 5: Compression test1, different water
holding capacity of muscles. Left: Sample
with low WHC. Right: Dark meat sample
with good WHC (less water pressed out)
Compression instrument see page 325
8 Meat, fat and other edible carcass parts

Water bound to the muscle protein affects the eating and processing
quality of the meat. To obtain good yields during further processing
including cooking, the water holding capacity needs to be at a high level
(except for uncooked fermented and/or dried products which need to
lose water during processing, see page 115, 171).

Water holding capacity varies greatly among the muscles of the body and
among animal species. It was found that beef has the greatest capacity
to retain water, followed by pork, with poultry having the least.

Tenderness and flavour

Meat tenderness plays an important role, where entire pieces of meat are
cooked, fried or barbecued. In these cases some types of meat, in
particular beef, have to undergo a certain ripening or ageing period
before cooking and consumption in order to achieve the necessary
tenderness (Fig.6). In the fabrication of many processed meat products
the toughness or tenderness of the meat used is of minor importance.
Many meat products are composed of comminuted meat, a process
where even previously tough meat is made palatable. Further processing
of larger pieces of meat (e.g. raw or cooked hams) also results in good
chewing quality as these products are cured and fermented or cured and
cooked, which makes them tender.

The taste of meat is different for

different animal species. However, it
may sometimes be difficult to
distinguish the species in certain food
preparations. For instance, in some
dishes pork and veal may taste similar
and have the same chewing properties.
Mutton and sometimes lamb has a
characteristic taste and smell, which
originates from the fat. Even small
quantities of fat, e.g. inter- and
intramuscular fat, may imprint this
typical smell and taste on the meat,
particularly of meat from old animals.
Feed may also influence the taste of
meat (e.g. fish meal). In addition, the Fig. 6: Aging/ripening of beef
sex of the animal may also give a hind quarter in cooling room
special taste and smell to the meat.
The most striking example is the
pronounced urine-like smell when
cooking old boar’s meat. Meat fit for
human consumption but with slightly
Meat, fat and other edible carcass parts 9

untypical smell and flavour, which may not be suitable for meat dishes,
can still be used for certain processed meat products. However, it should
preferably be blended with “normal” meat to minimize the off-odour.
Also intensive seasoning helps in this respect.
Fig. 7: Meat from different livestock species
Typical retail cuts

Beef top round slice

Pork rib chops from loin

Chicken leg
Lamb ribs

The typical desirable taste and odor of meat is to a great extend the
result of the formation of lactic acid (resulting from glycogen
breakdown in the muscle tissue) and organic compounds like aminoacids
and di- and tripeptides broken down from the meat proteins.

In particular the aged (“matured”) meat obtains its characteristic taste

from the breakdown to such substances. The “meaty” taste can be
further enhanced by adding monosodium glutamate (MSG) (0.05-
0.1%), which can reinforce the meat taste of certain products (see page
73). MSG is a frequently used ingredient in some meat dishes and
processed meat products in particular in Asian countries.
10 Meat, fat and other edible carcass parts

Animal fats

Fatty tissues are a natural occurring part of the meat carcass. In the live
organism, fatty tissues function as

¾ Energy deposits (store energy)

¾ Insulation against body temperature losses
¾ Protective padding in the skin and around organs, especially
kidney and heart.

Fatty tissue (Fig. 8) is composed of

cells, which like other tissue cells,
have cell membranes, nucleus and
cell matrix, the latter significantly
reduced to provide space for
storing fat. Fats, in the form of
triglycerides, accumulate in the fat
cells. Well fed animals accumulate
large amounts of fat in the tissues.
In periods of starvation or
exhaustion, fat is gradually
reduced from the fat cells. Fig. 8: Fatty tissue (fat cells filled with
In the animal body there are
subcutaneous fat deposits
(under the skin) (Fig. 10(a/b)) and
Fig. 14(a)), fat deposits
surrounding organs (e.g. kidney,
heart) (Fig. 10(d) and Fig. 16(a))
or fat deposits between muscles
(intermuscular fat, (Fig. 9(a)).
Fat deposits between the muscle
fibre bundles of a muscle are called
intramuscular fat (Fig. 9(b)) and
lead in higher accumulations to
marbling. Marbling of muscle meat
Fig. 9: Intermuscular fat (a) (around
contributes to tenderness and individual muscles) and intramuscular
flavour of meat. Many consumers fat (b) (inside muscle tissue)
prefer marbling of meat for steaks
and other roasted meat dishes.

For processed meat products, fats are added to make products softer
and also for taste and flavour improvement. In order to make best
use of animal fats, basic knowledge on their selection and proper
utilization is essential.
Meat, fat and other edible carcass parts 11

Fatty tissues from certain animal species are better suited for meat
product manufacture, fats from other species less or not suited at all.
This is mainly for sensory reasons as taste and flavour of fat varies
between animal species. Strong differences are also pronounced in older
animals, with the well known example of fat from old sheep, which most
consumers refuse. However, this aspect is to some extent subjective as
consumers prefer the type of animal fat they are used to.

Availability also plays a role when fatty tissues are used for processing.
Some animal species have higher quantities of fatty tissue (e.g. pigs),
others lesser quantities (e.g. bovines) (Table 1). Pig fat is favoured in
many regions for processing purposes. It is often readily available but
and has a suitable tissue structure, composition and unpronounced taste
which make it readily usable. Fresh pork fat is almost odour- and
flavourless. Body fats from other animal species have good processing
potential for the manufacture of meat products, but the addition of larger
quantities is limited by availability and some undesirable taste

Pork fat

The subcutaneous fats from pigs are

the best suited and also most widely used
in meat processing, e.g. backfat (Fig.
10(a), Fig. 12), jowl fat (Fig. 11(b), Fig.
12) and belly (Fig. 10(b) and Fig. 12).
These fatty tissues are easily separated
from other tissues and used as separate
ingredients for meat products. Also the
intermuscular fats occurring in certain
locations in muscle tissues are used. They
are either trimmed off or left connected
(e.g. intermuscular fat in muscle tissue)
and processed together with the muscle
meat. Subcutaneous and intermuscular Fig. 10: Pork carcass with
fats are also known as “body fats”. backfat (a), belly (b), leafe fat
Another category are the depot-fats, (c) and kidney fat (d)
located in the animal body around
internal organs. These fats can also be manually separated. In rare cases
mesenterical (intestinal) fats of pigs are used for soft meat products
(e.g. liver sausage), but only in small quantities as they cause untypical
mouthfeel in final products. The kidney fat (Fig. 10(d)) and leafe fat
(Fig. 10(c), Fig. 12) of pigs are not recommended for processed meat
products due to their hardness and taint, but are used for lard
12 Meat, fat and other edible carcass parts

Fig. 11: Jowl fat removed

from pig head (a) and cut into
strips (b). Behind: Rest of
pork carcass with back fat

Fig. 12: All fatty tissues from the pork

carcass: Jowl fat, back fat (above); leafe
fat, belly and soft fat (below)

Beef fat

Beef fat is considered less

suitable for further
processing than pork fat, due
to its firmer texture,
yellowish colour and more
intensive flavour. When used
for processing, preference is
usually given to brisket fat
(Fig. 13(a) and Fig. 14(b))
and other body fats
preferably from younger Fig. 13: Brisket fat (a) on beef cut (brisket)

animals. Such fats are used for specific processed beef products when
pork fats are excluded for socio-cultural or religious reasons. Some
tropical cattle breeds have a large subcutaneous fat depot in the
shoulder region known as “hump”. Fat is the predominant tissue of the
hump together with stabilizing connective tissue and muscle meat. The
hump tissue (Fig. 15(a)) is often cut into slices and roasted/barbecued
as a delicacy or used for processed products. Buffalo fat has a whiter
colour than beef fat and is therefore well suited for processing. The
limiting factor for utilization of beef/buffalo fat is its scarce availability, as
beef/buffalo carcasses do not provide high quantities of body fats
suitable for the manufacture of meat products such as frankfurters,
bologna etc., where amounts of fatty tissues in the range of 20% are
required. However, for the manufacture of products with a lower animal
Meat, fat and other edible carcass parts 13

fat content, e.g. burgers, fresh sausages for frying etc., mixtures of beef
and beef fat are well suited.

Fig.14: Beef carcass, Fig. 15: Hump with fatty

front part with external tissue (a) of tropical Fig. 16: Kidney fat (a) in
subcutaneous fat (a) and cattle beef carcass
brisket fat (b)

Mutton fat of adult animals is for most consumers absolutely unsuitable

for consumption due to its typical unpleasant flavour and taste. Fats from
lamb are relatively neutral in taste and commonly eaten with lamb
chops. Lamb fat can be used as a fat source when producing Halal meat

Fat from chicken

Chicken fat is neutral in taste and well

suited as a fat component for pure
chicken products. Chicken fat adheres
as intermuscular fat to chicken muscle
tissue and is processed without
separating it from the lean meat (see
page 56). However, the majority of
chicken fat derives from chicken skin
(Fig. 17, 84) with its high subcutaneous
fat content. For processing, chicken
skin is usually minced (see page 56) Fig. 17: Chicken skin to be
removed from cuts and used as fat
and further processed into a fat
emulsion before being added during
14 Meat, fat and other edible carcass parts

The nutritional value of meat and meat products

a. Proteins
The nutritional value of meat is essentially related to the content of high
quality protein. High quality proteins are characterized by the content of
essential aminoacids which cannot be synthesized by our body but
must be supplied through our food. In this respect the food prepared
from meat has an advantage over those of plant origin. There are
vegetable proteins having a fairly high biological value (see page 431),
for instance soy protein, the biological value of which is about 65% of
that of meat. Soy protein concentrates are also very useful ingredients in
many processed meat products, where they not only enhance the
nutritional value but primarily the water binding and fat emulsifying
capacity (see page 80).

The contractile proteins or myofibrillar proteins are quantitatively the

most important (some 65%) and are also qualitatively important as they
have the highest biological value. Connective tissues contain mainly
collagen, which has a low biological value. Elastin is completely
indigestible. Collagen is digestible but is devoid of the essential
aminoacid tryptophan.

Blood proteins have a high content of tryptophan but are nevertheless of

a lower biological value than meat due to their deficiency of the essential
aminoacid isoleucine.

b. Fats
Animal fats are principally triglycerides. The major contribution of fat to
the diet is energy or calories. The fat content in the animal carcass varies
from 8 to about 20% (the latter only in pork, see table 1). The fatty acid
composition of the fatty tissues is very different in different locations.
External fat (“body fat”) is much softer than the internal fat surrounding
organs due to a higher content of unsaturated fat in the external parts.

The unsaturated fatty acids (linoleic, linolenic and arachidonic acid) are
physiologically and nutritionally important as they are necessary
constituents of cell walls, mitochondria and other intensively active
metabolic sites of the living organism. The human body cannot readily
produce any of the above fatty acids, hence they have to be made
available in the diet. Meat and meat products are relatively good
sources, but in some plant sources such as cereals and seeds, linoleic
acid is usually present at about 20 times the concentration found in

In recent years it has been suggested that a high ratio of unsaturated /

saturated fatty acids in the diet is desirable as this may lower the
Meat, fat and other edible carcass parts 15

individual’s susceptibility to cardiovascular diseases in general, and to

coronary heart disease in particular. There is evidence to indicate that a
diet which predominantly contains relatively saturated fats (such as
those of meat) raises the level of cholesterol in the blood. To avoid
possible health risks from the consumption of the meat, vulnerable
groups should reduce the animal fat intake.

In this context, the “hiding” of high fat contents in some processed

meat products can be a dietary problem. Improved processing
equipment and techniques and/or new or refined ingredients has made it
possible to produce meat products with relatively high fat contents,
which may be difficult to recognize by consumers. In particular in
products like meat loaves, frankfurter type sausages or liver pate, where
meat and fat are finely comminuted and the fat particles are enclosed in
protein structures, the fat is difficult to detect visibly. Fat contents of up
to 40% may be hidden this
way, which is profitable for the
producer as fat is a relatively
cheap raw material. For some
consumer groups, such diets
are not recommended. On the
other hand, there are many
physically active hard working
people or undernourished
people, in particular in the
developing world, where meat
products with higher fat
content may be beneficial in
Fig. 18: Meat loaves with different fat
certain circumstances, contents; Left lower fat (20%) and right
predominantly as energy high fat (35%)

c. Vitamins
Meat and meat products are excellent sources of the B-complex vitamins
(see table 2). Lean pork is the best food source of Thiamine (vitamin B1)
with more than 1 mg / 100 g as compared to lean beef, which contains
only about 1/10 of this amount. The daily requirement for humans of this
rarely occurring vitamin is 1-1.5 mg. Plant food has no vitamin B12,
hence meat is a good source of this vitamin for children, as in their
organisms deposits of B12 have to be established. On the other hand,
meat is poor in the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K and vitamin C.
However, internal organs, especially liver and kidney generally contain
an appreciable percentage of vitamin A, C, D, E and K. Most of the
vitamins in meat are relatively stable during cooking or processing,
although substantial amounts may be leached out in the drippings or
broth. The drip exuding from the cut surface of frozen meat upon
16 Meat, fat and other edible carcass parts

thawing also contains an appreciable portion of B-vitamins. This indicates

the importance of conserving these fractions by making use of them in
some way, for example through direct processing of the frozen meat
without previous thawing (which is possible in modern meat processing
equipment). Thiamine (vitamin B1) and to a lesser extent vitamin B6 are
heat-labile. These vitamins are partially destroyed during cooking and

Table 2: Average content of vitamins in meat (micrograms per 100g)

Food B1 B2 B6 B12 A C

Beef, lean, fried 100 260 380 2.7 20 1

Pork, lean, fried 700 360 420 0.8 10 1
Lamb, lean, fried 105 280 150 2.6 45 1
Veal, lean, fried 70 350 305 1.8 10 1
Pork liver, fried 260 2200 570 18.7 18000 24

d. Minerals
The mineral contents of meat (shown as “ash” in table 1) include
calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, chlorine, magnesium with the
level of each of these minerals above 0.1%, and trace elements such as
iron, copper, zinc and many others. Blood, liver, kidney, other red organs
and to a lesser extent lean meat, in particular beef are good sources of
iron. Iron intake is important to combat anaemia, which particularly in
developing countries is still widespread amongst children and pregnant
women. Iron in meat has a higher bio-availability, better resorption and
metabolism than iron in plant products.
Principles of meat processing technology 17




Meat processing technology comprises the steps and procedures in the

manufacture of processed meat products. Processed meat products,
which include various different types and local/regional variations, are
food of animal origin, which contribute valuable animal proteins to
human diets. Animal tissues, in the first place muscle meat and fat, are
the main ingredients, besides occasionally used other tissues such as
internal organs, skins and blood or ingredients of plant origin.

All processed meat products have been in one way or another physically
and/or chemically treated. These treatments go beyond the simple
cutting of meat into meat cuts or meat pieces with subsequent cooking
for meat dishes in order to make the meat palatable. Meat processing
involves a wide range of physical and chemical treatment methods,
normally combining a variety of methods. Meat processing technologies

¾ Cutting/chopping/comminuting (size reduction)

¾ Mixing/tumbling
¾ Salting/curing
¾ Utilization of spices/non-meat additives
¾ Stuffing/filling into casings or other containers
¾ Fermentation and drying
¾ Heat treatment (see separate chapter page 87)
¾ Smoking


In modern meat processing, most of the processing steps can be

mechanized. In fact, modern meat processing would not be possible
without the utilization of specialized equipment. Such equipment is
available for small-scale, medium-sized or large-scale operations. The
major items of meat processing equipment needed to fabricate the most
commonly known meat products are listed and briefly described
18 Principles of meat processing technology

Meat grinder (Mincer) (see also page 301)

A meat grinder is a machine

used to force meat or meat
trimmings by means of a feeding
worm (auger) under pressure
through a horizontally mounted
cylinder (barrel). At the end of
the barrel there is a cutting
system consisting of star-shaped
knives rotating with the feeding
worm and stationary perforated
discs (grinding plates). The
perforations of the grinding
plates normally range from 1 to
13mm. The meat is compressed
by the rotating feeding auger, Fig. 19: Schematic drawing of grinder
pushed through the cutting
system and extrudes through the
holes in the grinding plates after being cut by the revolving star knives.
Simple equipment has only one star knife and grinder plate, but normally
a series of plates and rotary knives is used. The degree of mincing is
determined by the size of the holes in the last grinding plate. If frozen
meat and meat rich in connective tissue is to be minced to small
particles, it should be minced first through a coarse disc followed by a
second operation to the desired size. Two different types of cutting
systems are available, the “Enterprise System” and the “Unger System”:

¾ The “Enterprise System” (Fig. 19) is mainly used in smaller meat

grinders with orifice diameters up to 98 mm and consists of one star
knife, sharpened only
on the side facing the
disc, and one grinder
plate. Hole diameters
can vary from 13 to 5
¾ The “Unger System”
(Fig. 20) is used in
meat grinders with
orifice diameters up
to 440 mm and
consists of the kidney
plate, one or two star
knives sharpened on Fig. 20: Grinder: Worm feed (feeding worm/auger)
both edges and one and cutting set with plates and knives (system
or two grinder plates.
Principles of meat processing technology 19

For a final particle size above 8

mm the recommended setting
is kidney plate – star knife –
grinder plate. For a final
particle size <8 mm the
recommended setting is kidney
plate – star knife – grinder
plate (13 mm) – star knife –
grinder plate (6 to 1 mm) (Fig.
21). Fig. 21: Grinder plates of different hole
size, star knives and spacer rings for
tightening of cutting assembly

The smallest type of meat grinder

is the manual grinder (Fig. 22) designed as a simple stuffing grinder,
i.e. meat material is manually stuffed into the feeder. For all these small
machines the Enterprise cutting system is used with one star knife and
one grinder plate. These machines are very common everywhere in food
processing but their throughput and production capacity is limited due to
the small size and manual operation.

The intermediate size meat grinder, also designed as a stuffing grinder,

has orifice diameters up to 98 mm. It is driven by a built-in single-phase
electrical motor (250 V) and available as both a table and floor model.
The meat is put onto the tray and continuously fed by hand into a
vertical cylindrical hole leading to the feed auger. The meat or fat is
forced by its own weight into the barrel with the rotating feed auger. This
type of meat grinder is the most suitable for commercial small-scale
operations. Some brands use the Enterprise cutting system, others the
Unger system (Fig. 23, 24).

Fig. 22: Manual grinder Fig. 24: Grinder as floor

Fig. 23: Grinder as table model
20 Principles of meat processing technology

Large industrial meat grinders are driven by a three-phase electrical

motor (400 V) and equipped with the Unger cutting system. The orifice
cylinder diameter of this type of grinder ranges from 114 - 400 mm.
Industrial grinders are either designed as stuffing grinders with either
tray or hopper or as an automatic mixing grinder. The automatic mixing
grinder has a big hopper and the meat falls automatically onto the
mixing blades and the feeding worm (auger). The mixing blades and
feeding worm can be operated independently with mixing blades rotating
in both directions but the feeding worm only towards the cutting set.
Most of the industrial meat grinders are also equipped with a device for
separating tendons, bone particles and cartilage.

Bowl cutter (bowl chopper) (see also page 303)

The bowl cutter (Fig. 25, 26, 28, 29) is the commonly used meat
chopping equipment designed to produce small or very small (“finely
comminuted”) lean meat and fat particles. Bowl cutters consist of a
horizontally revolving bowl and a set of curved knives rotating vertically
on a horizontal axle at high speeds of up to 5,000 rpm. Many types and
sizes exist with bowl volumes ranging from 10 to 2000 litres. The most
useful size for small- to medium-size processing is 20 to 60 litres. In
bigger models bowl and knife speed can be regulated by changing gears.
Bowl cutters are equipped with a strong cover. This lid protects against
accidents and its design plays a crucial role in the efficiency of the
chopping process by routing the mixture flow. Number, shape,
arrangement, and speed of knives are the main factors determining the
performance of the cutter (see page 304). Bowl cutters should be
equipped with a thermometer displaying the temperature of the meat
mixture in the bowl during chopping.

Fig. 25: Small 20 litre bowl Fig. 26: Bowl cutter assembled with 6
cutter, single-phase motor
Principles of meat processing technology 21

Fig. 29: Bowl cutter–grinder combination

(twin model) with bowl cutter (60 litres
capacity) and meat grinder (114 mm
orifice diameter)
Fig. 27: Bowl cutter, schematic

Fig. 30: Vacuum cutter; lid can be

hermetically closed for vacuum treatment
of batter in the bowl
Fig. 28: Bowl cutter filled with
meat for chopping

Modern large scale bowl cutters may have devices to operate under a
vacuum (Fig. 30), which helps to improve colour and texture of the meat
products by keeping oxygen out of the meat mixes and avoid air pockets.
Cutter knives should be adjusted to a distance of 1-2 mm from the bowl
(Fig. 27) for optimal cutting (check the manufacturers recommendations
for each model). Most of the large and high-speed bowl cutters are
equipped with mechanical discharger devices for emptying the cutter.
The process of chopping in a bowl cutter is used for producing fine
comminuted products such as frankfurters, bologna, liver sausage etc.,
and enables processors to offer a much wider range of products.
22 Principles of meat processing technology

Filling machine (“sausage stuffer”) (see also page 306)

These machines are used for filling

all types of meat batter in containers
such as casings, glass jars, cans etc.
The most common type of filling
machine in small and medium size
operations is the piston type. A
piston is moved (Fig. 31) inside a
cylinder forcing the meat material
through the filling nozzle (funnel,
stuffing horn) into the containers.
Piston stuffers are either attached to
the filling table (Fig. 32; manual) or
designed as floor models (Fig. 33; Fig. 31: Piston stuffer, schematic
hydraulic). In small-scale operations
manual stuffers are usually sufficient, sometimes even simple hand-held
funnels are used (Fig. 412) to push meat mixes into casings.

Fig. 32: Manual piston stuffer Fig. 33: Piston stuffer (20 litres)
(10 litres) with different size filling funnels

Fig. 34: Principle of continuous stuffer (can also be operated with vacuum)
a = Hopper (recipient for meat mix), b = Rotating transport segments for meat mix
c = to filling nozzle; pink colour = meat mix (transport flow)
Principles of meat processing technology 23

Modern filling machines for larger operations are designed as continuous

vacuum stuffers (Fig. 34). During the filling process a substantial part of
the enclosed air is removed from the product, which helps to improve
colour and texture of the finished products. These models are usually
equipped with a portioning and twisting devise and have a casing grip
devise attached for filling of ”shirred” (folded) uncut collagen and plastic
casings. This type of continuous filling equipment is relatively expensive
and are thus not used in small- to medium-size operations.

Clipping machine

Clipping machines place small aluminium

sealing clips on the sausage ends and
replace the manual tying of sausages. They
can be used for artificial or natural casings.
Clipping machines can also be connected to
filling machines. Such machines work with
so called casing brakes, which are devices
for slow release of the shirred casings from
the filling horns ensuring tight filling. Then
the filled casing segments are clipped in
portions. So called double clipping
machines place two clips next to each
other, which ensures that the individual
sausage portions remain clipped on both
ends and easy separation of the sausage
portions is possible. When using shirred Fig. 35: Manually operated
sausage clipping machine
casings (see page 263), the time
with clip rails (left)
consuming loading of pre-cut casings is no
longer necessary. Wastage of casings can
be reduced to a minimum by tight filling and leaving only as much casing
for the sausage end as needed for the placing of the clips.

Clipping machines are mainly used in larger operations and in most cases
operated by compressed air. For medium-scale operations manually
operated hand clippers are available (Fig. 35).

Smokehouses (see also page 310)

Simple smokehouses are used for smoking only (Fig. 36, 37). In
traditional and small-scale operations the most common methods of
smoke generation include burning damp hardwood sawdust, heating dry
sawdust or heating pieces of log. But technological progress has changed
the smoke generation and application techniques. Methods used in
modern meat processing include the following:
24 Principles of meat processing technology

Fig. 36: Arrangement of sausages for Fig. 37: Small-scale smokehouse

smoking inside smokehouse, (sawdust is placed on the
schematic smouldering tray)

Burning/smouldering of saw dust (Fig. 38)

In modern smokehouses (1), smoke generation takes place outside the

smoking chamber in special smoke generators with electrical or gas
ignition (4). Separate smoke generators allow better control of the
quantity and temperature of the smoke produced. The sawdust or chip
material (3) is moved from the receptacle to the burning zone (4) by a
stirrer or shaker (3). It is ignited by means of an electrically heated plate
or by gas flame. A smoke stripper, which is basically a cold water spray,
can be placed in the initial part of the smoke pipe and serves to increase
the purity of the smoke as undesirable substances are washed out.
Smoke with a high degree of
desirable smoke components
can be obtained in the low
temperature range of
thermal destruction of saw
dust beginning at around
230°C and not exceeding
400°C. The smoke is
conveyed directly from the
generator to the smoking
chamber (Fig. 38(1), 41) via
a smoke pipe (2). The
burned sawdust is collected
at the bottom (5).
Fig. 38: Smokehouse with generator for
sawdust smoldering
Principles of meat processing technology 25

Smoke generation through friction (Fig. 39)

Timber (3), which is pressed (1) against a fast-rotating steel drum (4)
results in pyrolysis of the wood in the favourable temperature range of
300°C to 400°C. The flameless, light, dense and aromatic smoke
contains a large proportion of desirable smoking substances and a low
proportion of tars. The smoke is
conveyed (2) into the smoking chamber.
The creation of smoke can be
commenced and completed in a matter
of seconds. The operation of this type
of smoke generators is usually carried
out in a discontinuous manner. The
smoke quantity and quality can be
regulated by changing the speed and
time of rotation. As this type of smoke
can be produced at relatively low
temperatures, it does not carry high
amounts of hazardous substances such
as benzopyrene (see page 40). Fig. 39: Friction smoke generator

Smoke generation through steam

(Fig. 40)

Overheated steam (3) at approximately 300oC is injected into a compact

layer of sawdust (4), which causes thermal destruction of the wood and
smoke is generated. This method allows the control of smoke generation
temperature by choosing the adequate steam temperature. Impurities in
the smoke caused by particles of tar or ash are minimal. The steam-
smoke mixture condensates
extremely quickly and intensively
on the surface and inside the
sausage products and produces
the desired smoking colour and
flavour. No connection to the
chimney is required as smoke
particles not entering the
products settle down in the
condensing steam. The
condensed water is conducted to
the effluent system. Other details
of the system are: Hopper and
conveyer for sawdust (1,2),
Fig. 40: Unit for generation of smoke by
smoke duct to smoking chamber steam
(5), ashes (6).
26 Principles of meat processing technology

Combined equipment

Modern facilities can combine smoking, cooking and cooling operations

for meat products in one continuous process. By means of automatic
stirring systems processing parameters such as smoke generation,
temperature (up to 100oC) and relative humidity (up to 100%) required
to dry, smoke, or steam-cook any type of product, can be pre-set. With
additional refrigerated units installed in the smokehouse, it is also
possible to use it as a fermenting/ripening room for the first crucial steps
in production of fermented sausages or raw ham products, where air
temperature and air humidity have to be accurately controlled (see page
123, 177).

Fig. 41: Small smokehouse, inside

view, air/smoke circulation forced by
extraction fan on top (arrow) and re-
circulated through openings in double
Fig. 42: Smokehouse with
jacket side wall (arrow)
sausages ready for smoking

Brine injector

This equipment serves for the injection of brine into meat. Brine is water
containing dissolved salt and curing substances (nitrite) as well as
additives such as phosphates, spices, sugar, carrageenan and/or soy
proteins (see page 179). The injection is done by introducing pointed
needles into the muscle tissue. Brine injection is mainly used for the
various types of ham, bacon and other whole muscle products.

Brine injectors are available in different sizes from manually operated

single-needle devices (Fig. 43, 44) for small-scale operations to semi-
automated brine injectors with up to 32 needles and more (Fig. 45, 46).
In large machines the quantity of brine injected into the fresh meat can
be determined by pre-setting of pressure and speed. It is very important
Principles of meat processing technology 27

that all parts of the brine injectors are thoroughly cleaned after every
working session and disinfected regularly. Before the injector is used
again all hoses and needles should be rinsed with warm water as
particles left in the system can block the needles. Absolute cleanliness is
necessary as microorganisms remaining in the system would be injected
deep into the meat pieces during the operation.

Fig. 43: Brine injectors, pump driven, Fig. 44: Manual pump type injector
(left), syringe type injector (right)
manually operated, with single needle
(left) and multi needle device (right)

Fig. 45: Multi-needle injector, schematic

a - Main brine supply pipe, b - Brine
distribution pipe, c - Injection needle,
d - Meat piece to be injected, e - Sliding Fig. 46: Multi-needle injector,
needle holder, f - Excess brine collection semi-automated
28 Principles of meat processing technology

Tumbler or Massager

Tumblers (Fig. 47) are used for the processing of meat products such as
whole-muscle or reconstituted hams. Such machines resemble in
principle a drum concrete mixer. A rotating drum with steel paddles
inside slowly moves the meat pieces thus causing a mechanical
massaging effect. This mechanical process is assisted by the addition of
salt and phosphates to achieve equal brine distribution and liberates
muscular protein from the meat tissue (protein extraction). The semi-
liquid protein substances join the meat pieces firmly together during
later heat treatment (see page 184, 185). For hygienic reasons it is
important to place the tumbler below 10oC to avoid excessive microbial
growth during lengthy tumbling times (more then 4 hours or even over
night). In specific cases it is recommended that the tumbler should be
operated refrigerated (Fig. 48, 49) or inside a cold room below -1°C, as
these temperatures are best to extract as much soluble protein as
possible from the muscle meat.

Fig. 47: Tumbler, schematic

Fig. 49: Tumbler inside mobile

refrigerated housing

Fig. 48: Tumbler with double jacket for

refrigeration and vacuum pump/motor
Principles of meat processing technology 29

Vacuum packaging machine

For vacuum packaging the meat product has to be placed into a vacuum
bag (multi-layer synthetic bag, see page 270). Air is removed from the
bag by means of the vacuum
packaging machine (Fig. 50) and
the bag then sealed (see page 273).
Special vacuum packaging
machines can operate with so
called gas-flushing, where a
mixture of gas is injected after
evacuating the air. Such protective
gas atmospheres inside the product
package inhibit bacterial growth
and stabilize the meat colour. The
gas mixtures usually contain CO2 Fig. 50: Vacuum packaging machine
and N2 (see page 275). (table model)

Mixer / blender

Mixers are used to blend meat and spices, or coarse and finely chopped
meat. The machine generally consists of a rectangular or round bottom
vessel through which two parallel shafts operate (Fig. 51). Various
paddles are mounted on those shafts to mix the meat. The mixer is
discharged through tilting by 90 degrees. Some mixers are designed as
vacuum mixers (Fig. 52), as the mixing under vacuum (exclusion of
oxygen) has advantages for the development of desirable product colour
and texture.

Fig. 51: Blender, schematic Fig. 52: Blender with lid for hermetic
closure for vacuum treatment; can be
declined for emptying
30 Principles of meat processing technology

Emulsifying machine (colloid mill)

The emulsifier (Fig. 53, 54) serves

for the preparation of very fine meat
emulsions. Its functional parts are a
perforated plate, attached to which
two edged blades are rotating (rotor
blade) (Fig. 55). Next to the blades
there is a centrifugal pump that
forces the pre-ground meat through
the perforated plate. Most emulsifiers
are vertical units. Compared to the
bowl cutter the emulsifier operates at
much higher speed, producing a finer
emulsion-like mix. The emulsifier is
Fig. 53: Emulsifying machine,
also perfectly suited to produce
semi-processed products such as pig
skin emulsions (see page 32).

Fig. 54: Emulsifying machine Fig. 55: Emulsifying machine (plate

( top down view) and rotating blade)

Ice flaker

In these machines (Fig. 56) ice flakes are

continuously produced from potable
water. Ice is needed in meat processing
for some types of meat products. Water,
added in the form of ice, is an important
ingredient in order to enhance protein
solution (see page 128) and to keep the
temperature of the meat batter low. Ice
flakers with in-built UV-water-disinfection
device are available for areas with unsafe Fig. 56: Ice flaker with
water supply. storage compartment
Principles of meat processing technology 31

Frozen meat cutter

The purpose of cutting frozen meat

blocks into smaller pieces is to make
frozen meat suitable for immediate
comminuting in grinders, bowl cutters
etc. without previous thawing. There
are two types of machines for the
cutting of frozen meat blocks, working
either with knives cutting in vertical
direction (guillotine principle) or using
rotating drums with attached sharp
knives. In the guillotine-type machines
a knife head is driven hydraulically and
even the hardest frozen products can
be cut into small pieces, either meat
cubes or meat strips. Rotary frozen
meat cutters (Fig. 57) operate
according to the principle of carving out
particles from the frozen meat blocks. Fig. 57: Frozen meat cutter with
The rotary drums can be equipped with rotating round knives for cutting
knives capable of cutting out pieces of out pieces/chips from frozen
meat blocks
frozen meat from large fist-size to
small chip-size.



Meat processing technologies include on the one hand purely technical

processes such as
¾ Cutting, chopping, comminuting
¾ Mixing, tumbling
¾ Stuffing/filling of semi-fabricated meat mixes into casings,
synthetic films, cans etc.
¾ Heat treatment

On the other hand, chemical or biochemical processes, which often go

together with the technical processes, are also part of meat processing
technology such as
¾ Salting and curing
¾ Utilization of spices and additives
¾ Smoking
¾ Fermentation and drying

These processes are described hereunder and in the following chapters.

32 Principles of meat processing technology

1. Cutting (reducing meat particle size)

There are five methods of mechanical meat cutting for which specialized
machinery is used:

Mincing (grinding) of lean and fatty animal tissues (Fig. 58)

Larger pieces of soft edible animal tissues can be reduced in size by
passing them through meat grinders. Some specially designed grinders
can also cut frozen meat, others are equipped with devices to separate
“hard” tissues such as tendons and bone particles from the “soft” tissues
(minced muscle meat particles) (see page 18, 301).

Chopping animal tissues in bowl cutter (discontinuous process)

(Fig. 59)
Bowl cutters are used to chop and mix fresh or frozen lean meat, fat
(and/or edible offal, if required) together with water (often used in form
of ice), functional ingredients (salt, curing agents, additives) and
extenders (fillers and/or binders) (see
page 20, 111, 137, 151, 157)

Fig. 59: Chopping of meat mixture

Fig. 58: Mincing of raw meat material for in bowl cutter; lid opened after
processed meat products in meat finalizing chopping, cutter knives
grinders visible

Chopping animal tissues in emulsifying machines (continuous

The animal tissues to be emulsified must be pre-mixed with all other raw
materials, functional ingredients and seasonings and pre-cut using
grinders or bowl cutters. Thereafter they are passed through emulsifiers
(also called colloid mills) in order to achieve the desired build-up of a
very finely chopped or emulsified meat mix (see page 30).
Principles of meat processing technology 33

Frozen meat cutting

Boneless frozen meat blocks can be cut in slices, cubes or flakes by
frozen meat cutters or flakers. The frozen meat particles (2-10 cm) can
be directly chopped in bowl cutters without previous thawing thus
avoiding drip losses, bacterial growth and discoloration which would
happen during thawing (see page 31). For small operations the manual
cutting of frozen meat using cleavers or axes is also possible.

Cutting of fatty tissues

Back fat is cut in cubes of 2-4 cm on specialized machines to facilitate
the subsequent chopping in cutters/emulsifiers. In small-scale operations
this process can be done manually.

2. Salting / curing

Salting – Salt (sodium chloride NaCl) adds to the taste of the final
product. The content of salt in sausages, hams, corned beef and similar
products is normally 1.5-3%. Solely common salt is used if the cooked
products shall have a greyish or greyish-brown colour as for example
steaks, meat balls or “white” sausages (see box page 33). For production
of a red colour in meat products see “Curing” (page 34).

Chemical aspects of salting

The water holding capacity of meat can be increased with the addition of
salt up to a concentration of about 5% in lean meat and then decreases
constantly. At a concentration of about 11% in the meat, the water binding
capacity is back to the same level as in fresh unsalted meat.

Sodium chloride has only a very low capacity to destroy microorganisms, thus
almost no bacteriological effect. Its preserving power is attributed to the
capability to bind water and to deprive the meat of moisture. The water
loosely bound to the protein molecules as well as “free” water will be attracted
by the sodium and chloride ions causing a reduction of the water activity (aw)
(see page 323) of the product. This means that less water will be available
and the environment will be less favourable for the growth of microorganisms.
Bacteria do not grow at a water activity below 0.91, which corresponds to a
solution of 15g NaCl/100 ml water or about 15% salt in the product. These
figures explain how salt has its preservative effect. Such salt concentrations
(up to 15%) are too high for palatable food. However, for the preservation of
natural casings this method is very useful

Heat treatment of meat salted with NaCl results in conversion of the red meat
pigment myoglobin (Fe+2) to the brown metmyoglobin (Fe+3). The colour of
such meat turns brown to grey (see Fig. 60, 61).
34 Principles of meat processing technology

Besides adding to flavour and taste, salt also is an important functional

ingredient in the meat industry, which assists in the extraction of soluble
muscle proteins. This property is used for water binding and texture
formation in certain meat products (see page 129, 184).

The preservation effect, which is microbial inhibition and extension of

the shelf-life of meat products by salt in its concentrations used for food
(on average 1.5-3% salt), is low. Meat processors should not rely too
much on this effect (see box page 33) unless it is combined with other
preservation methods such as reduction of moisture or heat treatment.

Curing – Consumers associate the majority of processed meat products

like hams, bacon, and most sausages with an attractive pink or red
colour after heat treatment. However experience shows that meat or
meat mixes, after kitchen-style cooking or frying, turn brownish-grey or
grey. In order to achieve the desired red or pink colour, meat or meat
mixes are salted with common salt (sodium chloride NaCl), which
contains a small quantity of the curing agent sodium nitrite (NaNO2).
Sodium nitrite has the ability to react with the red meat pigment to form
the heat stable red curing colour (for details see box page 35, 68). Only
very small amounts of the nitrite are needed for this purpose (Fig. 60, 61,

Fig. 60: Pieces of cooked meat (pork) Fig. 61: Two sausage cuts
4 pieces with common salt only One produced with salt only (right)
(right) and 3 with common salt and the other with salt and small
containing small amounts of nitrite amounts of nitrite (left)

Nitrite can be safely used in tiny concentrations for food preservation and
colouring purposes. Traces of nitrite are not poisonous. In addition to the
reddening effect, they have a number of additional beneficial impacts
(see below) so that the meat industries widely depend on this substance.
Levels of 150 mg/kg in the meat product, which is 0.015%, are normally
Principles of meat processing technology 35

To reduce the risk of overdosing of nitrite salt, a safe approach is to

make nitrite available only in a homogeneous mixture with common salt
generally in the proportion 0.5% nitrite and the balance of sodium
chloride (99.5%). This mixture is called nitrite curing salt. At a
common dosage level of 1.5-3% added to the meat product, the desired
salty flavour is achieved and at the same time the small amount of nitrite
needed for the curing reaction is also provided. Due to the sensory limits
of salt addition (salt contents of 4% are normally not exceeded), the
amounts of nitrite are kept low accordingly.

Chemical and toxicological aspects of curing

In meat or meat mixes to be cured the nitrite curing salt must be evenly
distributed (relevant techniques see page 37, 38, 39, 134, 173, 179)). During
mixing the nitrite is brought in close contact with the muscle tissue and its red
meat pigment, the myoglobin. Due to the acidification in meat after slaughter
(see page 4), the pH of such meat or meat mixes is always below 7, which
means slightly acidic. The acidity may be enhanced through curing
accelerators such as ascorbic acid or erythorbate (see page 37, 68).

Nitrite (NaNO2), or rather nitrogen oxide, NO, which is formed from nitrite in
an acid environment, combines with myoglobin to form nitrosomyoglobin,
a bright red compound. The nitrosomyoglobin is heat stable i.e. when the
meat is heat treated the bright red colour remains. The addition of nitrite
curing salt in quantities of approximately 2%, which is the usual salt level,
generates a nitrite content in the meat products of approximately 150ppm
(parts per million or 150 mg/kg). This nitrite content is not toxic for
consumers. Upon reaction of the nitrite with the myoglobin (which is the
genuine curing reaction), there will be on average a residual level of nitrite of
50-100ppm remaining in the product. In any case the amount of residual
nitrite in the finished product should not exceed 125ppm. The maximum
ingoing amount for processed meat products is normally up to 200mg/kg of
product (Codex Alimentarius, 1991).

Apart from its poisoning potential (which is unlikely when using nitrite curing
salt), there is a debate concerning the possible health hazards of nitrite curing
as under certain conditions nitrite can form nitrosamines, some of which can
be carcinogenic in the long term. However, nitrosamines can only be found in
strongly cooked or fried meat products which were previously cured with
nitrite. Fresh meat for cooking (see page 90) and fresh burgers or sausages
for frying (see page 103) do usually not contain nitrite but salt only. Hence
the risk of formation of nitrosamines does not exist in such products. One
product, where such conditions may be met, is bacon. Keeping the residual
nitrite content low in bacon minimizes the risk of formation of nitrosamines.
36 Principles of meat processing technology

Sodium or potassium nitrate (Na/KNO3) (“saltpetre”) may also be used for

curing but it is limited to certain dry cured products such as raw hams, which
require long curing and aging periods. Nitrate must be broken down by
bacteria to nitrite, which is the substance to react through its NO with the
muscle pigment myoglobin. The bacterial process is rather slow and time
consuming. As most products require an immediate curing effect, the nitrite is
the substance of choice in most cases and there is little use for nitrate (see
also page 119).

A great deal of research has been done with regard to the utilization of
nitrite and it can be said that nitrite in meat products is safe if basic rules
(see box page 35) are adhered to. Nitrite is now recognized a substance
with multifunctional beneficial properties in meat processing:
¾ The primary purpose of nitrite is to create a heat resistant red
colour in a chemical reaction with the muscle pigment, which
makes cured meat products attractive for consumers.
¾ Nitrite has a certain inhibitory effect on the growth of
bacteria. This effect is particularly pronounced in canned meat
products which are usually stored without refrigeration, where
small numbers of heat resistant bacteria may have survived but
their growth is inhibited by the presence of nitrite (see also page
¾ Nitrite has the potential of attributing a specific desirable
curing flavour to cured products.
¾ In the presence of nitrite fats are stabilized and rancidity in
meat products retarded i.e., an antioxidant effect.

Many attempts have been made to replace nitrite by other substances,

which would bring about the same beneficial effects as listed above. Up
to now no alternative substance has been found. As the above desirable
effects are achieved with extremely low levels of nitrite, the substance
can be considered safe from the health point of view. Currently the
known advantages of nitrite outweigh the known risks.

Curing of chopped/comminuted meat mixtures

Curing is applied for most chopped meat mixtures or sausage mixes

for which a reddish colour is desired. The curing agent nitrite is added in
dry form as nitrite curing salt (Fig. 62). The reaction of nitrite with the
red meat pigment starts immediately. Due to homogenous blending the
meat pigments have instant contact with the nitrite. Higher temperatures
during processing, e.g. “reddening” of raw-cooked type sausages at 50oC
or scalding/cooking of other products at 70-80oC, accelerate the process.